L’innovazione nelle imprese familiari: la propensione a brevettare nelle sussidiarie estere (Innovation in family firms: the propensity to patent in foreign subsidiaries)

  • Mariasole Bannò
  • Sara Loner
  • Sandro Trento
Keywords: family business; foreign subsidiaries; ownership; governance; successor; propensity to patent


Purpose of the paper: The main objective is to understand, through the socioemotional wealth lens, whether innovative family firms tend to use patents as a tool for protecting intellectual property in foreign subsidiaries.

Methodology: The sample is composed of 2.760 foreign subsidiaries of Italian multinational companies. We decided to adopt two Probit regression models and two multiple linear regression models chosen as a function of the dependent variable.

Findings: The involvement of the family in the ownership is negatively associated with the propensity to patent in foreign subsidiaries. In contrast, the presence of successors favors the company to use patents as an intellectual-property protection tool abroad.

Research limitations: The sample is composed only by Italian subsidiaries.

Implications: Both managerial and policy implication emerge. Family firms should consider to accept external equity shareholders and should involve successors in the business. Public incentive should be implemented to develop a patent strategy that protects industrial property and promotes the economic exploitation of patents in foreign subsidiaries.

Originality of the paper: To the best of our knowledge, no paper analyzed the family firms’ propensity to patent in foreign subsidiaries compared to the parent company.



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